Make the marinade:
Cut four deep, lengthwise gashes, equally spaced, into each lemon. Put the lemons and garlic cloves in a small microwavable container. Cover and microwave on high until the lemons are soft and juice has exuded from them, about 4 min. (If not soft, continue to microwave in 30-second intervals). Strain the juice into a small container and let the lemons and garlic cool briefly. When the lemons are cool enough to handle, separate them into sections. Scrape the pulp and most of the white pith away with a spoon; discard. Put the scraped lemon peels, garlic, lemon juice, and remaining marinade ingredients in a blender and purée to make a coarse, soft paste. Set 2 Tbs.aside to use for the yogurt sauce.
Marinate the chicken:
Put the chicken into a 1-gallon zip-top bag; scrape in the remaining marinade. Massage the bag to coat all the chicken pieces and marinate for 1 to 2 hours in the refrigerator.
Grill the kebabs:
Flat or double-pronged skewers keep food from spinning when you turn them.
Build a medium-hot charcoal fire or heat a gas grill to medium high. Dump the chicken into a bowl, but don’t scrape off any excess marinade. Put the onion and peppers in the marinade bag and massage them to coat with the marinade (it’s fine if the onion pieces break apart). Transfer to another bowl. Thread the chicken onto skewers, positioning a piece of onion and pepper between the pieces of chicken. If there’s extra pepper or onion, thread them onto separate skewers, if you like.
When ready to grill, oil the grill grate. Grill the kebabs over direct heat (uncovered for charcoal; covered for gas), turning the skewers every 2 to 3 min. until the chicken is firm and shows no redness when cut into, about 10 to 15 min. Check several pieces of chicken to be sure.
Make the sauce:
Combine the reserved 2 Tbs. marinade with the cucumber, cilantro, yogurt, and 2 tsp. salt. Mix well. (Make the sauce no more than an hour before serving or it will be too watery).
Remove the chicken and vegetables from the skewers and serve them in a mound with the yogurt sauce on the side.
nutrition information (per serving):
based on six servings;
sat fat g
Photo: Scott Phillips